Understanding and Managing Stress: Your Health Depends on it!

Understanding and Managing Stress: Your Health Depends on it!April is Stress Awareness Month, and even though it’s almost May, it’s never too late to learn about stress and how harmful it can be to your body. Stress is difficult to define because it is so different for each of us.

Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened. When you sense danger—whether real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in an automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight-or-freeze” reaction, or the stress response. This response is the body’s way of protecting you. It helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself or pushing you to jump out of the way of an on-coming car.

Stress happens when people feel like they can’t manage the demands in their lives. It can be short-term or long-term. Being late for work or arguing with your partner can cause short-term stress. Financial problems or job trouble can cause long-term stress. Even happy events, like having a baby or buying a house can cause stress.

Problems arise from feeling stressed for a long time. It can seriously damage your mental and physical health. The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones; these hormones make blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels go up. Long-term stress can help cause a variety of health problems, including:

  • Mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart beats
  • Menstrual problems
  • Skin problems

Everyone reacts to stress differently, but here are some common signs:

  • Not eating or over eating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of focus
  • Trouble getting things done
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Short temper
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Back pain
  • General aches and pains

Try these tips to keep stress in check:

  • Get organized
  • Set limits
  • Take deep breaths
  • Stretch
  • Take time for yourself
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat right
  • Get moving
  • Connect with others
  • Get help from a professional if you need it

Even though it may seem hard to find ways to cope with stress with your busy life, it’s important to find those ways. Your health depends on it. Read more online at: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-causes-and-effects.htm

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